Monday, March 24, 2014
Goncalves back in the lineup
By Brian O'Connell
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, Saturday’s match against the Vancouver Whitecaps was no different than any other for Revolution captain Jose Goncalves.
Goncalves, who was dropped from the gameday 18 last week in Philadelphia, returned to the lineup on Saturday, and helped his squad claim its first point of the 2014 season in a 0-0 draw at Gillette Stadium.
“It felt good, to be back on the pitch,” Goncalves said. “It seemed like every other game for me, and I am really focused on my game now.”
No doubt the 2013 Defender of the Year was locked in for Saturday’s clash -- especially after he was part of a Revolution back line that coughed up four goals in the season opener in Houston.
Following the match against Philadelphia, speculation centered around Goncalves’ contract squabbles as the reason that he was left off the gameday roster. Revolution coach Jay Heaps didn’t directly address the decision, only saying that he “put the best players on the field” for last week’s game.
But if it was Goncalves’ intent to put that episode behind him, he succeeded -- and in brilliant fashion. The Portuguese international accumulated a game-high 13 clearances, made three interceptions, and won three aerial duels. More importantly, he helped smother a Whitecap attack that scored five goals in the two games prior to their meeting with the Revolution.
Another sign that that the previous week’s events were behind him? The captain’s armband, which Chris Tierney sported in Philadelphia, was back on Goncalves’ left bicep.
“I try to be a professional every time I step on the field,” Goncalves said. “At the end of the day, Jay has the decision (about who is captain) and the most important thing for me is to be 100 percent and to help my team.”
But what can’t be seen in the stats was the cohesiveness the back four displayed in face of a dangerous Vancouver front four with Goncalves on the pitch again -- something that did not go unnoticed by Revolution coach Jay Heaps.
“I thought our backline was really good tonight,” Heaps said. “I thought (Andrew) Farrell did an excellent job. A.J. (Soares), Jose (Goncalves) and (Chris) Tierney all defended really well with the help of (Andy) Dorman.”
It appears that if Goncalves and Heaps had any differences they have been smoothed over since last weekend, and that the defenders' focus remains unchanged.
“I train every day, and give 100 percent when I’m on the field,” Goncalves said. “I didn’t see any situation or problem. All I did was train and focus on my game.”
There’s no debate that the Revolution will need their veteran center back to employ the same blend of strength, savvy and leadership he displayed on Saturday as the season continues.
“I think everything is going normally right now, and everyone is focused on the game,” Goncalves said. “There can be a lot of outside speculation, but I’m here playing with my team, which is the most important thing.”